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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« How to Immediately Put Back More "B" in Balance | 3 Simple Ways to Be More Thankful Every Day »

How to Improve Life Balance When Organizing Your Stuff

You may wonder why life balance is an issue when you’re organizing. Very simply, organizing your life or taking on even a single organizing project will have an influence on how your time gets allocated. Thoughts about and engagement in the organizing project can become time consuming, which can result in feeling out of balance. In addition, some organizing projects are highly emotional, like when you’re sorting through objects to which you have strong sentimental attachments. This can throw your balance off even further. Finding anchors along the way can help improve your sense of balance.

Over the recent weeks, I’ve been sharing with you my journey about clearing, organizing and getting our childhood home of 56+ years ready for sale. After several months of work, it will go on the market this week. In previous posts, I’ve shared that this journey has been highly emotional. I’ve reviewed, discovered and let go of a lot of stuff. There have been tears and laughter. There have been found treasures that have lifted my sprits and stabilized me along the way.

This week I’m focusing on connections and how threads from the past helped me understand and find gratitude in the present. These gifts from another time appeared just when I needed them most.



Balance in Continuity

The day I was sorting and organizing my Mom’s dresser, I discovered the round, plastic box shown in this photo. Inside was a man’s watch along with a note written by my mother over 30 years ago. She wrote,

“Papa Moishe’s watch in Nana Stell’s powder box – She kept this in her top vanity drawer after he died. I took it with me when I packed up her house to close it when she died.” 

I read that note and burst into tears. The watch was my grandfathers and the vanity that my mom referred to was my grandmother’s, which I have in my bedroom. I helped my mom close up my grandparent’s house. Now decades later, I am doing this for my parents. Finding this treasure helped me that day. In the intensity of the project, this discovery was a message of connection to the past and encouragement of the present. It felt like my mom and grandparents were right there with me providing love, support, and some momentary balance.



Balance in Change

This is one of my Dad’s sketches. It’s the “green monster,” a cabinet that he built in 1950, the year my parents got married. Next to the sketch are some notes written by my mom about the cabinet’s history. It was a simply built plywood piece that kept morphing and changing as the family grew. The cabinet was painted many times. Details like curtains, hooks, and cushions were added and subtracted even more times. The family always called it the green monster because it was originally painted green. My first memory of it was as a baby when it was my pink changing table. In addition to what my mom documented on the note, the green monster was also used as an orange stereo cabinet in my first apartment in Boston and moved with me after college when I lived in Manhattan. When I got married, it moved to our loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. That was it’s last home before as mom said, it went “out to pasture.” Remembering the green monster, its journey, and final departure helped me process my feelings about the family home. Like the green monster, our childhood home has been a character in our lives that we have to let go of. Our memories of the wonderful, loving times shared there will remain. The green monster sketch and notes were all about change. I found comfort in that. Things aren’t meant to remain the same. Somewhere in that message, I felt some balance being restored.



Balance in Love

I adored my grandmother, Nana Stell. I was lucky to have her in my life up until I was a young adult. We were close. What I hadn’t remembered was that we were always close. This was one of the lovely treasures I found during one of the memorabilia organizing days. I came across this photo of 13-months old me, sitting at a table while drinking a bottle. My hand rests gently on someone’s arm. I turned over the photo and saw my grandmother’s writing, which said,

“Linda suddenly decided her ‘Nana’ was quite OK and constantly begged to stay in my arms. Here, having her breakfast, she suddenly realizes I’m near and reaches over to touch me. What a precious interchange of trust and love.”

I was so grateful that my grandmother took the time to appreciate and write about that moment. In discovering it, I was able to do the same, feeling our connection even though my Nana was long gone. It felt like I was reaching through time to feel her love and support at a time when I needed it most.


When you think about tumultuous points in the organizing process or at any time in life, what anchors help you to restore your balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join our conversation!





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Reader Comments (14)

I love the story of the green monster. It is special items like these - that have meaning to a small group of people - that become family treasures. Often, these pieces appear to have no value to an outsider. This is one of the reasons why I love working with clients, because I get to hear the "back story" of so many possessions. For me, balance is about first putting my see-saw on a solid fulcrum that never moves, and then perpetually adjusting my resources to the activities, pursuits and pastimes that come and go in my life.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

In a way, Linda, I think preparing your family home for sale has brought you many blessings. Reconnecting with these beautiful memories is a powerful way to prepare for letting go of the physical home. Balance is a tenuous thing. Like a seesaw, we can tend more one way or another. Understanding that by shifting our focus more toward the upside can bring the downward side back to balance. Happy memories are always on the upside.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Seana- Ahh...those wonderful back stories that we get to hear. It is one of the things I enjoy most when working with clients and it sounds like you do too. I love what you said about balance - so wise! Having that solid foundation or "fulcrum" and then adjusting your resources accordingly. Just beautiful.

December 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Diana- I appreciate you holding that thought up about this process bringing about so many wonderful moments. Perhaps it's more of a gratitude than organizing journey. Balance IS a tenous thing and is always in a state of flux. Interesting that you and Seana both used the seesaw analogy, which makes so much sense. I love the perspective you offered about shifting the focus upwards or downwards...but as a constantly moving focus.

December 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love that your grandmom wrote on the back of the photo. Over the years, I have helped clients and friends scan pictures and create slideshows. I was so impressed when I found little notes and comments about the photo on the back of the images. Taking the time to do this gives more depth to the image you are viewing. I wish I had my mother write down the stories she told me about her relatives photos. It would have been a great addition to my ancestry information.

Good luck on the sale of the home. I hope all goes well for you and your family.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

Reading your stories brought tears to my eyes; you are a wonderful writer.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Sabrina- That's so cool that you've helped friends and clients with their treasured photos. I know what you mean about how helpful those "back of the photo" comments are. When I was sorting our family photos there were many people I had no clue who they were. And I realize that as time passes, this will happen for future generations. So having some documentation is great. Thank you so much for your good luck wishes. I really appreciate that.

December 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Janet- Awww. Thank you so much for saying that. It means a lot especially since you are an excellent writer.

December 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Powerful reflections on the what's needed to close a chapter of your family. What most impresses me is the way you have spent time reflecting.Rather than getting the job "done" you are using this time to process all of this. Thank you for sharing that it is not the speed of a project however how powerful it can be in our lives.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Such sweet memories, Linda! Thank you for sharing them with us. That picture of you as a baby with your hand on your grandmother is too precious. My grandmother died this year and in my aunt's Christmas card, which I just received, was a picture of Grammy J. I got a little teary seeing it but was so happy to have the beautiful image and feel grounded and connected to her once again.

December 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Soboleski

@Ellen- Thank you for that, Ellen. I guess we all have different ways of processing. It's been helpful for me to write, take photos, and share with my family and this wonderful community. I hope that it gives others ideas about how they might go through this type of situation.

December 5, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Sarah- I am so sorry for your loss. Grandmothers are so special. What a beautiful thing that your emotions welled-up when you saw the photo of your grandmother on your aunt's Christmas card. Having those strong, deep connections are the wonderful part of life.

December 5, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences of transitioning out of your family home here in your blog. It is something that many of us have done or will do and you have done a wonderful job of normalizing the experience as one not to be feared or dreaded, but appreciated for what it can be ~ an opportunity to discover and connect with the past. Hugs, Andrea

December 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

@Andrea- Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement and support. During this process, I spoke with many people that either had been there or were headed there. It was comforting to know that while my particular journey was unique to me, this type of scenario was common to many. It helped to hear about others' experiences as I journeyed. I'm so happy to know that you found something positive in my posts which might help others to normalize and appreciate this stage. In any challenge that we experience, there are always silver linings. Hugs back to you, my friend.

December 12, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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